Every day we are exposed to toxins and chemicals in our environment – through the foods we eat and the products we use. Over time, the cumulative toxins absorbed by our bodies can have detrimental effects on our reproductive health, for both men and women.
If you are planning on starting a family or have been trying for some time, I recommend that you read on and learn what may be causing your fertility issues. In this article I am focussing on male reproductive health and toxin exposure. You can then make educated decisions to seek help, and also reduce or eliminate as much toxin exposure as possible in all areas of your life for optimal fertility health. Don’t be overwhelmed. Small changes over time can make a huge difference. Every little bit counts.
Male Reproductive Health
A male’s healthy sperm plays a key role in the ability to conceive. While the woman produces the ovum and carries the baby, a woman can’t conceive without healthy sperm to fertilise the egg. According to statistics, one in six couples will experience infertility issues and one in three is due to male fertility factors.
The more healthy your sperm, the more likely you are to achieve a healthy pregnancy. There are three main factors to healthy sperm which include:
- Quantity. A healthy sperm count is about 15 million or more for every millilitre of semen. The more healthy sperm you have, the more likely one of them will make it through the gate.
- Movement. Sperm needs to be able to move effectively to reach its destination (the egg). Approximately 40% or more of them need to be moving for your sperm to be considered healthy.
- Shape. The shape of healthy sperm is also important. Strong and healthy sperm will have rounded heads and long, strong tails giving them the power to reach the egg.
So how can you improve your sperm health so that you and your partner can achieve a healthy pregnancy? Here are my top four recommendations:
1. Have a Balanced Diet
Sperm are affected by dietary and lifestyle choices so always be conscious of the foods you consume and try to eat a well-balanced diet. Avoid processed foods altogether if you can. Foods you should include more of are:
- Lean protein such as meat, fish, poultry and dairy.
- Fresh, organic fruit and vegetables, especially berries, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes and spinach which contribute to a higher sperm count when consumed regularly.
- Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, Brazil and hazelnuts to also increase your sperm count.
2. Exercise Regularly
Exercising regularly and keeping your weight under control is known to boost sperm count and quality. Light to moderate exercise is best (don’t overdo it) and aim for at least 30 minutes three to four times each week. The extra hormones, endorphins and blood flow will increase sperm count and mobility, not to mention your sex drive. Try to avoid intense physical activity such as cycling and jogging as these are linked to decreased sperm quality.
3. Take Supplements
Important minerals and vitamins may be missing from your diet. Some common supplements that you may like to consider taking include (however speak to a professional to ensure they are right for you, and won’t interfere with any other medications you may be taking):
- Vitamin C to increase sperm count and mobility
- Vitamin D to balance hormone levels
- Zinc to improve quality and quantity
4. Caffeine, Alcohol & Smoking
Before reaching out for another coffee or beer, consider that caffeine and alcohol have been found to raise the chances of miscarriage after conception (so this applies to both females and males). Try to eliminate or have no more than 1-2 cups of caffeinated drinks each day, including soft drinks and coffee. Alcohol also has also been known to have a negative impact on sperm count and motility, so avoid binge drinking and regular daily use. Better yet avoid alcohol altogether, especially when you have been trying to conceive for a while.
Smoking is highly toxic to the body, especially sperm. Please seek help and advice to quit.
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What You Can Do Together
There are many external factors that can also affect fertility and disrupt hormones in both men and women – this includes the food we consume, the products we use on our bodies, the air we breathe and even what we clean our homes with.
My aim is to help you understand the factors that may be affecting your fertility so that you and your partner can make conscious and informed decisions and make small, but important changes together.
You can significantly reduce your exposure to toxins and chemicals by buying organic fresh produce where possible. This generally will mean that you will buy seasonal produce direct from the producers and farmers themselves at farmers markets. Yes, the prices are a little more expensive but the taste and health benefits from consuming fresh organic produce is well worth it. You will also be increasing your intake of nutrients, vitamins and fibre.
What to avoid…
- Imported fruit and vegetables
- Supermarket fruit and vegetables that have been sitting on shelves or crates for extended periods of time
- Canned and tinned foods
Instead opt for…
- Fresh and seasonal organic produce
- Visiting farmers markets and meeting the growers
- Ethically grown produce
- Start your own vegetable garden and plan fruit trees
- Frozen fruit and vegetables that have been snap frozen?
Review and assess your personal care regime and reduce toxins where possible. Many commercial personal care products such soaps, body washes, shampoos, conditioners, make up, deodorants, antiperspirants, toothpaste and perfumes are laden with synthetic chemicals. Try to review and assess where you can make conscious decisions about the products you are using that will reduce your chemical and toxin exposure and opt for products that nourish your body without harming you or the environment.
What to avoid…
- Face and body scrubs that use plastic micro-beads
- Foaming agents such as sodium laurel sulphate (SLS)
- Nasty preservatives such as parabens
- Nail polishes and nail polish removers
- Aerosols such as deodorants, antiperspirants and hairspray
- Petroleum based ointments
- Perfumed candles
Instead opt for….
- Natural and/or organic ingredients in products
- Shopping at health food stores for chemical free products
- Reading the ingredients in products you buy
Make Educated Choices
The most important aspect is that you are educated in the things affecting your fertility and health, and make a conscious effort to make small but important changes. It doesn’t have to be drastic, just one small step at a time that will lead to better habits, use of safer products and consuming the best produce to optimise your body’s health.
You may also be interested in reading my article, 5 Top Tips to Getting Pregnancy Ready.
If you are preparing for conception, or have been trying a while, it’s important to seek some help. When I begin working with clients I assess both female and male health to ascertain the best way to achieve a healthy pregnancy, naturally. To make an online booking to visit me, click here.